Family Ski Holiday Tips

5 secrets to a perfect family ski holiday

Ski at Treble Cone

New Zealand ski holidays create the most memorable experiences for families as generation gaps, arguments about the bigger bedrooms and stresses at work all subside to the mutual passion for snow.

New Zealand ski areas, with their defined boundaries create a controlled playground, enabling family members to explore and bond as a group or split off and escape as individuals, and it is the combination of the two that creates a harmonious environment.

Most of New Zealand's ski areas are well-equipped for children and kids of all ages can enjoy their family snow time.  Maybe you all ski together or you want to get some lessons for the kids while you have a blast ... there are a few secrets to making your time on the snow the best family holiday!  Read on for our 5 tips to skiing with the kids.

treble cone child 

The logistical challenges of any snow holiday can threaten that harmonious balance, putting parents on edge and kids on high alert. In this article, 5 top tips have been outlined to weight the scales in your favour.

1. Getting to the snow

New Zealand has very few on-mountain accommodation options so you will likely be transporting the kids and their piles of snow gear to the mountains each day. And moving everything without losing a single item (or a child) either takes a forklift and a GPS tracker or an insider’s travel tip.

Before parking the car, drive up as close as you can to the base building to unload the ski gear and the kids before you go park. At most ski resorts there is designated drop-off area right in front of the base building for just that.   Most have free shuttle buses from your car back to the base building, but it's best if you've been able to drop the kids off first.
And if you want a warm spot to put your boots on, they have seats inside the rentals area or near the entrance of the base café.

Also think about taking a bus from your accommodation straight to the ski field.  That takes all the stress away and there are usually many different shuttle options.  Also a private taxi service might be cheaper than you think for a family, and means you can come and go exactly when you want.

2. Prepare, Prepare and Prepare some more

There are some things that you can guarantee on a family snow trip, 1) it will get cold, 2) it will get wet, 3) the kids will get tired and 4) everyone will get hungry. But none of these have to be negatives with the right preparation.

Tip #1 – pack a few extra layers. You can keep these in your car, or in lockers available to rent, saving the walk back to the car.

Tip #2 – pack an extra pair of ski pants and thermal pants for the kids. It can be a challenge to make it to the toilet with so many layers. But that doesn’t need to end the day.

Tip #3 – Send the kids out with a trail map, a chocolate bar, a guardian's name and phone number and labels on everything. Ski resorts are safe places with very defined boundaries, but things can always go missing and that goes for the kids as well.

Lost and found at is located at Guest Services. But if it is the kids you are missing, you are best talking to Ski Patrol who have most likely located your wee ones before you even knew they were missing.

Tip #4 – take lots of hot chocolate breaks. It’s a great time to assess the fatigue of the group and re-charge the batteries a little. Fatigue is the number one cause of injury at any ski area, so it is important to stay on top of it.

3. Enroll the kids in lessons

Lessons are not just about progression, they are also about alone time for you! But don’t feel guilty, alone time is appreciated by parents and kids alike, especially when adding a super cool ski or snowboard instructor and some new mates.

All resorts have a snow sports school, dedicated to safety, fun and progression with capped lesson sizes for adults and kids group lessons. For kids lessons, half day and full day (full day includes lunch) programmes commence 10 minutes prior to the adult version, give parents time to organise the entire family, including themselves. Week long holiday programmes are also available running over the New Zealand July School Holiday period.

4. Start the photo cycle

So maybe you won’t be the most popular when suggesting a family photo, but anyone with the hindsight provided by age knows how a photo will be appreciated in the weeks (or sometimes it might take decades) to follow. Walk up that little bit further for the ultimate shot. Spectacular backdrops are not in short supply in the Southern Alps!

5. A snow experiences for all

Not everyone in the group will be ready for skiing or snowboarding. This applies to little guys under 3 (although not always) and the older generations that are stoked to be included in the family holidays.

For the wee ones, have a play in the snow. Coronet Peak rents out toboggans and has a dedicated area.

For the senior members of the family, jump on the chairlift for a scenic ride (check which mountains offer this) , taking visitors up to the top of the mountain in the comfort of their own shoes. At the top, take some photos and watch the family loop around and around the ski slopes.

Get ready to make some memories on your next New Zealand ski holiday.
Map of New Zealand
  • Central Otago
  • Auckland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Christchurch
  • Dunedin
  • Coromandel
  • Gisborne
  • Fiordland
  • Marlborough Sounds
  • Manawatu
  • Northland
  • North Canterbury
  • Queenstown
  • South Canterbury
  • Taranaki
  • Southland
  • Taupo
  • Wanaka
  • Waikato
  • Wellington
  • West Coast
  • Whangarei
  • Bay of Islands
  • Tauranga
  • Gisborne
  • Hamilton
  • Napier
  • Kapiti
  • Palmerston North
  • Whanganui
  • New Plymouth
  • Arrowtown
  • Te Anau
  • Akaroa
  • Ashburton
  • Hanmer
  • Kaikoura
  • Methven
  • Mt Cook
  • Oamaru
  • Tekapo
  • Timaru
  • Abel Tasman
  • Motueka
  • Nelson Lakes
  • Blenheim
  • Picton
  • Catlins
  • Gore
  • Stewart Island
  • Central Plateau
  • Invercargill
  • Cromwell
  • Greymouth
  • Hokitika
  • Westport
  • Glenorchy

Our favourite destinations…


New Zealand’s economic heart and biggest city is also an exciting family visitor destination, situated on a sunny harbour with city beaches just minutes away from the CBD. Orientate yourself by heading down to Viaduct Harbour, wandering the waterfront, checking out the super yachts or enjoying the waterfront restaurants. Nearby is the must-visit Sky Tower along with excellent and kid-friendly museums and tons of exciting activities!


Wellington is New Zealand’s capital. Here you will find New Zealand's parliament buildings, including the 'Executive Wing', more well-known as 'The Beehive' due to its distinctive shape. Another icon to look out for is the Wellington Tram, which was the main means of public transport between 1878 and 1964.


With a population of around 400,000 Christchurch, in Canterbury, is the South Island ’s largest city, yet much of it has the feel of a small town. Perhaps that’s why it’s known as the Garden City but with the expansive Hagley Park, Botanic Gardens, Port Hills, River Avon and numerous beaches the city certainly has an open, relaxed feel that’s hard to beat.


With its well-deserved reputation as New Zealand’s activity adventure capital you’ll never run out of activities and things to do in Queenstown, but you may run out of time! With breathtaking scenery, activities and festivals, cafes and restaurants, skiing and snowboarding, shopping and wineries, this lakeside alpine resort rates as one of the world’s top vacation destinations for all ages and seasons.


Rotorua sits on the shore of Lake Rotorua, one of sixteen lakes in the area formed by hundreds of thousands of years of eruptions from the Taupo Volcanic Zone. The area is renowned for its geothermal activity and top of any activity list is to see the bubbling mud pools that are around the region for yourself. The Waimangu Volcanic Valley offers a first hand insight into the devastation caused by the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera and is a great place to discover steaming volcanic craters and bubbling, spitting  pools of mud!

Nelson and Golden Bay

The Nelson and Golden Bay regions, at the top of the South Island, boast enviable sunshine hours, glorious sandy beaches, safe swimming spots, lots of wildlife to look out for, and Abel Tasman National Park - an absolute must to explore, on foot, by kayak, your own craft or watertaxi.  Nelson is home to a vibrant arts and crafts community with a fabulous Saturday market, and is close to award-winning wineries and family-friendly bike tracks to take you around the coast.

Hawkes Bay

Napier was rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake and is now known as NZ's Art Deco City.  The Art Deco influence has created a unique city – nowhere else can you see such a varied concentration of art deco style. With over 2,200 sunshine hours a year, Napier is a year-round holiday destination with countless activities to entertain the kids – there's days of entertainment on Marine Parade alone, plus numerous other family-friendly trips and activities.  Add to that the beaches, walks and flat cycle paths, outdoor cafes and entertainment, and you have a perfect holiday destination!


Beautiful, unspoiled beaches, fishing, historic gum fields, kauri forests – the Far North has it all. With subtropical temperatures, it's often known as ‘the Winterless north', with warm, humid summers and mild winters.
Gateway to the Bay of Islands, Paihia is a pretty, lively beachside town and a perfect base for your family holiday. It’s your start point for Bay of Island adventures including day cruises, sailing, kayaking, swimming with dolphins and reef or wreck diving.